2012 among 10 warmest years on record

2013-01-16 16:48
Libya has the hottest place on Earth title to the US. (Tony Gutierrez, AP)

Libya has the hottest place on Earth title to the US. (Tony Gutierrez, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Washington - Last year was among the top 10 warmest in the modern global record, two US climate-watching agencies reported on Tuesday, less than a week after 2012 was declared the hottest ever in the United States.

The US space agency Nasa and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration jointly issued two reports on 2012 world temperatures. Nasa ranked last year the ninth-warmest since record-keeping began in 1880, while Noaa found last year was the tenth-warmest.

The difference in the two rankings may be due to Nasa's extrapolation of temperatures in areas with no weather stations, particularly near the poles, according to James Hansen, director of Nasa's Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

The 2012 global surface temperature, including land and water, was 0.56°C warmer than the 1951-1980 average. That was enough to increase extreme high temperatures last year, Hansen reported.

Last year was also the 36th consecutive year with a global temperature hotter than the 20th century average, scientists from the two agencies told a media briefing.

Senator Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who chairs the Senate environment committee, said the reports "make clear that the Earth is warming, and the trend is going in the wrong direction. We cannot afford to ignore these warnings and must make plans to address this serious threat. The health and well-being of our communities and families depends on it".

And while the moving five-year mean temperature for the globe has been flat for a decade, that doesn't mean global warming has stalled, according to Hansen, a long-time advocate for action to curb greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

'Apparent standstill' in warming?

Noting that each of the last three decades has been warmer than the one that preceded it, he said an "apparent standstill" in global warming could be due to weak El Niño patterns, which would normally heat up things in many places, and strong La Niña patterns, which have a corresponding cooling effect.

Hansen said it also might be due to fast-developing countries like China and India, where increased particulate air pollution from fossil-fuelled vehicles and industries can reflect sunlight and keep temperatures lower.

Despite evidence that human activities that emit carbon dioxide contribute to climate change, some sceptics maintain that the rise in global temperatures are in fact rising.

Noaa said in its report that most parts of the world were hotter than average over the course of 2012, including most of North and South America, most of Europe and Africa and western, southern and far north-eastern Asia.

Most of Alaska, far western Canada, Central Asia, parts of the eastern and equatorial Pacific, southern Atlantic and parts of the Southern Ocean around Antarctica were cooler than average, according to Noaa's National Climatic Data Centre.

The two agencies also issued their report on global snow and ice cover, finding that the Northern Hemisphere had its 14th largest winter snow cover in 47 years of record-keeping. By spring, though, Northern Hemisphere snow cover shrank to the sixth-smallest size on record, Noaa said.

Arctic sea ice -an important global weather-maker- shrank to its smallest size ever in 2012, 49% below the average and 760 000km² below the previous record smallest, set in 2007.

By contrast, Antarctic sea ice was above average for most of 2012.

Read more on:    noaa  |  us  |  environment  |  climate change

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.